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When Will Dish Wireless Finally Start Competing: Jeff Kagan

Why has Dish Wireless not already become the fourth largest wireless player in the industry? During the T-Mobile/Sprint merger, this was highlighted as something that would happen. So, what is happening?
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.

Image source: DISH Network

It has been more than a year since T-Mobile acquired Sprint. As part of that acquisition, DISH Network was supposed to become the fourth place wireless competitor. The next Sprint. We are still waiting, however, for that to happen. When I heard that claim back then, I was doubtful. Still am.

If you ask the company, it says it is building. The section on wireless on its corporate website discusses things that will happen but have not happened yet.

So the question is simple… When will DISH ever come out of the closet as the fourth largest wireless provider like we were promised?

Don’t get me wrong. I like DISH. I like the Chairman Charlie Ergen. I like his bold, risk taking, entrepreneurial style. With every month that ticks by, however, increasingly more investors and customers are wondering if DISH will ever get moving in wireless.

And to tell you the truth, the company is too quiet for its own good. After all, wireless is a noisy, take-no-prisoners industry. We have seen it burn through many new competitors over the last decade.  

Can DISH Wireless be successful in the long run?

I want DISH Wireless to become a real competitor. It would be good for DISH and for the wireless industry.

The wireless industry, however, is a different kind of beast. It is fast moving and rapidly changing compared to the pay TV industry upon which Ergen has built his fortune.

Plus, every few years it takes on a completely new course of growth. Heck, even Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox and others failed their first time around. It took them years to recover from the first losses to finally start winning at the wireless game. Now Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile and Altice Mobile are doing strong business.

As for DISH, in the time it is taking the company to build its business before launch, the industry has moved fully into the 5G stage and is rapidly advancing and changing. When this started, we expected wireless carriers to be offering wireless pay TV. Now, not so much.

AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon are the leading wireless brands

So, because it is taking DISH so long, even when it does launch a state of the art, 5G wireless network, it will be no different and nothing special compared to the competition of AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

Today, DISH is missing its chance to create and build a meaningful brand which is desired by the marketplace.

Years ago, the company got its hands on valuable wireless data spectrum. During the last year or two, DISH has been hiring talented executives and piecing together a wireless network.

The company has been flexing its muscles for several years saying it would be a real player in the wireless industry. Today, it should be flying as a wireless upstart.

Why isn't it? The company still has not launched and is still not a competitor. That delay is increasingly concerning for the company and its investors.

You can only flex your muscles for so long. At some point you need to demonstrate your dominance. That is what has been missing with DISH.

Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile are MVNOs

Even the cable television giants are finally growing in wireless as MVNO resellers. Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile resell Verizon Wireless. Altice Mobile is a reseller of T-Mobile.

These three cable TV companies have shown real growth in the wireless industry.

If it was going to take this long for DISH to build its network and launch its service, perhaps it should launch as an MVNO. Then it could take its time to build its own network.

At least it would be in the market and building its brand name in this cutthroat industry.

DISH is a satellite pay TV provider, similar to cable TV companies. So, there is no reason why it cannot also be successful in wireless.

DISH is weak in marketing, advertising and PR

To become successful in wireless, however, the company will need to have a great advertising, marketing and public relations program. DISH really needs to punch its way onto the map. Otherwise, the company won’t be heard among the noisy competitors.

Unfortunately, marketing, advertising and public relations have always been weak links for DISH.

True, wireless is a different kind of industry. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are traditional leading networks, and they own the majority of the industry.

There are also cable TV MVNO resellers like Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile who are all showing strong growth.

There are resellers like Cricket Wireless, Tracfone and many others.

Besides these success stories, though, there have been several failures in the wireless industry as well. Remember when Facebook and Amazon Fire Phone entered wireless? We expected success from these powerful brand names, but they collapsed faster than most could notice.

DISH Wireless is taking too long to manifest

Yes, wireless is a tough industry in which to be successful. It will not be a walk in the park for DISH.

That being said, wireless continues to be one of the most important and fast-growing industries. 5G wireless is the next big growth wave that will keep feeding the beast for many years to come.

That means today is the right time for DISH to launch its wireless effort.

I think DISH is missing a big opportunity today. Its delay means the 5G wireless train is moving ahead without it.

DISH Wireless must show strong leadership

The company is missing the opportunity to show strong leadership and build a strong wireless brand — to create expectations and develop a growing list of new customers who simply cannot wait to join.

DISH is just too quiet, and in the wireless industry, that is not a recipe for success. I want the company to succeed. I wish Charlie Ergen and his team the best. I hope the company can become a viable competitor.

Time is ticking away, however, and it has been more than a year since the company was the talk of the town. Since then, we haven’t seen much of anything real… not yet anyway.


Jeff Kagan is an Equities News columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Technology Analyst and Commentator who follows Telecom, Pay TV, Cloud, AI, IoT, Tele Health, Healthcare, Automotive, Self-Driving cars and more. Email him at [email protected] His web site is Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn


Columnist: Jeff Kagan

Source: Equities News

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